Cold in July Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Wyatt Russell
  • Director: Jim Mickle
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: September 30, 2014
  • Run Time: 110 minutes



            Filmmaker Jim Mickle may borrow in style from directors that he admires, but the narratives he chooses have an unpredictable edge to them. Cold in July is no exception, spiraling into a seedy noir that one would never imagine from the film’s beginning. Based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale, the story winds and weaves into unexpected territory after an exciting opening scene. Though it drags in the middle before providing a satisfyingly exciting climactic sequence, this is helped along with the three fantastic actors in the leading roles.


            When small-town family man Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) is awoken by a burglar late one night in 1989 in his home in Texas, he inadvertently kills the intruder. This bit of information goes out in the local paper, making him something between a freak show and a hero for the locals. It also attracts the attention of Ben (Sam Shepard), the father of the burglar that Richard is reported to have killed in the break-in. When Ben begins to show up threatening Richard and his family, the narrative deceptively seems to be falling into a predictable rhythm, which it does not remain in for long.


            This is a surprising exception to the formulaic films often produced for mass entertainment, taking the audience down a devious rabbit hole of crime and corruption. For sake of enjoyment, I won’t divulge further elements of the plot, but to say that the cast is joined by Don Johnson as Private Detective Jim Bob. Although each of the actors are well suited for their roles, Johnson seems to be having the most fun with it.


            This is one of the few independent films in recent history that I would recommend on Blu-ray, because of Mickle’s distinctly stylistic approach to filmmaking. The cinematography by Ryan Samul is breathtaking, and it is paired perfectly with a synthesized soundtrack reminiscent of classic John Carpenter. The Blu-ray special features include cast/crew commentaries, deleted scenes (also with optional commentary tracks). As if that wasn’t enough, even the early pre-visualization tests have a commentary track available. One of my favorite features, however, is the isolated score track for Jeff Grace’s soundtrack. There is also a trailer. 


    Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance:  7.5/10

    Special Features: 9/10

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